Long-term optical imaging of neurovascular coupling in mouse cortex using GCaMP6f and intrinsic hemodynamic signals
Cerebral hemodynamics are modulated in response to changes in neuronal activity, a process termed neurovascular coupling (NVC), which can be disrupted by neuropsychiatric diseases (e.g., stroke, Alzheimer's disease). Thus, there is growing interest to image long-term NVC dynamics with high spatiotemporal resolutions. Here, by combining the use of a genetically-encoded calcium indicator with optical techniques, we develop a longitudinal multimodal optical imaging platform (MIP) that enabled time-lapse tracking of NVC over a relatively large field of view in the mouse somatosensory cortex at single cell and single vessel resolutions. Specifically, GCaMP6f was used as marker of neuronal activity, which along with MIP allowed us to simultaneously measure the changes in neuronal [Ca2+]i fluorescence, cerebral blood flow velocity (CBFv) and hemodynamics longitudinally for more than eight weeks. We show that [Ca2+]i fluorescence was detectable one week post viral injection and the damage to local microvasculature and perfusion recovered two weeks after injection. By three weeks post viral injection, maximal neuronal and CBFv responses to hindpaw stimulations were observed. Moreover, single neuronal activation in response to hindpaw stimulation was consistently recorded, followed by ˜2 s delayed dilation of contiguous microvessels. Additionally, resting-state spontaneous neuronal and hemodynamic oscillations were detectable throughout the eight weeks of study. Our results demonstrate the capability of MIP for longitudinal investigation of the organization and plasticity of the neurovascular network during resting state and during stimulation-evoked neuronal activation at high spatiotemporal resolutions.